Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

I haven’t written as much as I’d like lately, since the last two weeks were busy spent planning my seven-year-old’s birthday party and preparing for our upcoming school year.  Trying to do both of these things simultaneously is pretty much a guaranteed ticket to Crazytown.  We started “back to school” on Monday, and it was honestly a little rough.  We are not used to getting up early in the morning, because our summer was pretty lazy.  There are equal parts of me that feel good and bad being awake before 7:00 am.

I had finalized our daily schedule the night before and stuck it on the fridge.  Even with the best of intentions, what you put on paper doesn’t always translate neatly into real life.  Mainly because, well, I am trying to teach a first grader and a preschooler while also balancing housework and cooking meals.  There will be those moments when my seven-year-old wants to go off on a very looong tangent discussing some topic that may not even be remotely relevant to what we were just talking about, and my three-year-old has a meltdown because I ask her to do page 2 in her workbook instead of page 3.  And then the two of them bicker over something, even though I have taken great pains to make sure that they each had an equal amount of glue sticks, pencils, scissors, etc. in their caddies.

So by God’s grace and lots of caffeine, we made it through this first week.  This year, I’m trying hard not to take myself so seriously and go with the flow.  I struggled these last few days to find a groove, and figure out the best way to organize things, but the kids (especially Colton) are excited about learning.  And, I have to say that I love having a school room this year.  It’s so much easier to transition from one subject to another with everything all in one place.  We don’t have to clear books and science experiments off the kitchen table to eat lunch.  My husband convinced me to move most of the kids’ toys into their rooms, so the room is a lot less cluttered and functional now!  Anyway, here are some pictures from our first week:

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Coloring pictures of rain forest critters and creating a jungle scene in a sticker book, since we are learning all about animals during our first quarter this year in Science.

20150824_121349      Rory practicing her counting.
20150826_101402Colton concentrating hard on his spelling.

20150826_102522Rory coloring in Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book. This rug is also where they like to gather for Bible reading, complete with pillows from their beds!
20150827_124913   Enjoying a new book in our “reading nook”.

20150828_135415Finishing the week with a field trip to the zoo!  Daddy came with us, because he has off on Fridays.  🙂

All in all, despite some setbacks, I’d say our first week of the year was a success.  I am trusting God for each new day, because I know I don’t have enough strength or ability on my own to do this!

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Beautifully In Over My Head

Beautifully In Over My Head

The never ending sacred dance of comforting, wiping, disciplining, loving.  Trying to control your temper when you are met with an unexpected mess of toys all over the living room, or when your oldest gives you attitude over a simple request.  Struggling to keep up with the demands of household chores and small human beings.  Being molded and shaped into the person God wants you to become, even while you are molding and shaping their young minds and hearts…

One exhausting minute at a time.

This is mothering.  This is my calling, and my great opportunity to depend on God in continual prayer. The beauty of not knowing what you are doing and knowing you are not qualified for a task is the desperation to stay connected to God who does know.  You know the saying: He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.  If I appear as though I am doing anything well, I assure you, I am not doing it in my own strength.

Ultimately I am able to display the fruits of the Spirit (joy, patience, gentleness, kindness) when I abide deeply in Him.  But when I mess up, as I am inevitably bound to do, that is when I can teach my children Romans 3:23- “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  I can remind them (and myself) that each one of us needs a savior.  And then humbly ask for their forgiveness.  My children see my shortcomings every single day.  They see Mommy lose her cool, get stressed and overwhelmed.  They see all the broken, sinful pieces, but if I model the preeminence of God in my life, then my children will see how to live out their faith.  When my kids see a living example of God’s grace each day, as well as being taught doctrine, they will know that Christianity is real.  This moves them beyond just head knowledge of truth but into relationship with the Author of truth.

It amazes me that God entrusts me with the awesome responsibility of raising children and pointing them to Him.  I can’t offer much on my own.  I will never have enough time, energy, patience or love for my kids.  Too often I operate out of self-reliance, seek self-indulgence, and am motivated by selfishness.  Trying harder is not the answer though; surrender is.  The Lord meets me in my weakness when I am surrendered to Him and enables me to do something I could never do on my own.  Ann Voskamp says it wonderfully, “You cry and wonder if you are insane to try to educate these children, to disciple these little hearts, while laundering, cooking, cleaning, managing a household, and still being a wife, a sister, a daughter, a missionary in your community, and a servant of the faith.  And He smiles and says that He walks with you, has grand and glorious purposes, and He understands radical and crazy!”  Jesus meets us out on that deep water, moms.  When we feel like we are drowning in responsibilities, He reaches out and grabs our hand to keep us from sinking.  He will lift our head above the mighty waves- we just have to be willing to show up to do our work for His glory, day after day (after day).

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Making The Most Of Your Days

Making The Most Of Your Days

As I lay next to my six-year-old Wednesday night waiting for him to fall asleep (our weekly routine when Gregg is at worship rehearsal), I wished I could have frozen that moment in time.  There was something about the innocence of my son all wrapped up in his sheets and blankets surrounded by stuffed animals.  I even wanted to bottle up the smells.  After a summer day of playing hard, my son doesn’t exactly give off the most pleasant of scents, but it’s nothing that a quick shower can’t fix.  🙂  The long day with all of its frustrations, mistakes (mostly on my part) and tasks was over and in the peaceful stillness of the night, it was just me and my “little” boy.  It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital, and in one week that baby will turn seven.

My toddler is turning into a preschooler before my eyes.  I know she’ll be a teenager before I know it.  Though I shouldn’t dwell on them getting older, I am not naive that these days are fleeting.  I certainly can’t freeze time, but I can make the most of my time with them.  They are only this young for a relatively short period, and I only have a little while to impress our values and faith upon them.  The Bible warns us to make the most of our time, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:16)  One of the biggest realizations I have had this past year homeschooling is that I am not only educating my children at home by teaching them reading, writing and math.  I am also, and more importantly, informing them how the world works, who created that world, and what their place in it might be.  In other words, I am discipling them.  Luke 6:40 says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher”.

Being with my children day in and day out presents me with multiple chances to share Christ with them and with others as well.  A sibling squabble or a fight between one of my kids and his/her friends can be opportunities to teach my children about grace, forgiveness, and handling conflict in a godly way.  Disrespectful attitudes and rude speech can be used to tell them about how Jesus wants us to treat others.  Through holding everything they learn up to what the Word Of God says, they learn the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.  By understanding that they are created in the image of God, my son and daughter will believe in the sanctity of life and the great love of their heavenly Father not only for them, but for all people.  Moreover, spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization and Christian service can be taught and modeled if I am intentional about it.

The reality is that children are quite impressionable in their formative years, and they are bombarded daily with “hollow and deceptive philosophies” that are diametrically opposed to the Word of God through two main pipelines, secular entertainment and secular education.  In his book “Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes To Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God”, Voddie Baucham states that a child’s worldview – what they think about God, man, knowledge, ethics, and truth – affects all of their decisions and actions throughout their lives.  Their beliefs in these five areas affect how they behave, and they do not realize how or when these views are being formed.  As their parents, we are their first line of defense against ideologies that distort God’s truth.  By availing ourselves to them now, thought it entails sacrifice, we can provide them with a solid biblical foundation which they will need when they encounter ideas that conflict with their faith.

Not surprisingly, Jesus educated His disciples and those around Him in the pattern and method set forth in Deuteronomy 6 and other Old Testament passages.  Jesus taught and instructed as He walked by the way, as He ate, as He drank, as He lived.  He engaged people in discussion and conversation.  He was available to answer questions.  He developed relationships and used every opportunity and every circumstance to point people toward His Father, to challenge them and encourage them to more faithful, godly living.  This is the way that God commands parents to educate their children.  Mothers and fathers should be instructing their children throughout the day, during their daily activities and in all the circumstances of life.

In one 4.5 million dollar sociological study, the results showed that children’s spiritual lives are strongest when their friends, family, sports, religion, and education “somehow” overlap.  Put simply, all areas of a child’s life have to be congruent with his or her faith.  This study was written by a non-Christian, anti-homeschooling sociologist, but he is onto something here!  For the best chance of kids’ faith taking root in their hearts and minds, all “slices of the pie” should hold the same worldview.  If one area espouses a radically different belief system from all the others, the child will end up with conflicting values.  Ultimately, the one he has had the most exposure to during his youth will be the one he defaults to later in life.

My job as a parent, trying to instill Biblical values in my children, is an uphill battle all the way when they are continually fed philosophies that are incompatible with God’s Word. Obviously, I can’t put my kids in a bubble, nor would I want to. If they are never exposed to germs, they will not build up a resistance to them.  Rather, they should get just enough of a dosage that it inoculates them against the secular humanistic ideas of the day.  Examining the worldview that dominates our culture, under our protection and through the filter of the Bible, can give them the ability to counter it with the proper defense.  1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  There is an old adage that says whoever has the child’s heart will be the one discipling them.  As a mom I hold the greatest position of influence over my kids, and make the most of the time, when I diligently train them and shape their character by the application of biblical discipline.

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